We (Open Clasp) have commissioned four new writers, five facilitators and one Assistant Director to work with women in prison, those fighting to reclaim streets, experiencing domestic violence and black women gathering to have their voices heard. To support the project we have also contracted a new producer. This is our Workforce Development Programme. Here we are building our capacity to respond and fight injustice.
Last week we all gathered at the West End Women & Girls Centre where our offices are based. My job was to share the company’s methodology of how we work with women and girls; the role drama and creativity plays to create a safe space for discussion, debate and activism. Two days were spent creating character from the lived experiences of everyone in the room. On the Wednesday I’d invited guests, co-creators/collaborators/participants from Lasagna, Key Change, don’t forget the birds, Two Camps and Rattle Snake. The room leaned in, time slowed and the voices of the women, the impact of the process to create, the power of theatre written and produced in response was heard.
We walked to create with Professor Maggie O’Neill and Clare Qualmann. On the last day we returned to their character and all the issues we had discussed, and we built a bridge to a new horizon. Our Associate Director Laura Lindow had joined us and asked everyone to Mark the Moment from the week. Our guests, the women, took centre stage. It was here, in these moments that the methodology clicked, pennies spun, twilled, and landed.
What is the methodology? I worked hard to share with respect, the room is full of talent, experience and knowledge. To me the most important ingredient to the process, apart from the women, is ‘you’. What do you care about? Your lens, empathy, curiosity, passion and solidarity. Your sense of justice and fight for change. Why drama and creativity? We step into the shoes of others and ourselves. We stand back, observe and see the inequality and injustice. We examine the context of our lives and we make a plan to fight back.
Open Clasp for me, is activism.
This week they start working with groups. Then writers will write in response, productions will be made and shared with audiences. Our Workforce Development Programme is full of women who are feeling the rage to make change, one play at a time.